Changing behaviors can no doubt be challenging. Many times when people decide to improve their health they jump in without first trying to figure out the real, deeper reason for making change in their lifestyle. In order to stick with a plan, whether it is improved nutrition or moving more, or for improving any aspect of your life for the long-term, it is critical to think about – and write down – your own individual “why.”
When we look at changing behaviors from superficial, just at the surface reasons, we are typically relying on willpower instead of really getting to the root of what is driving and motivating our desires to make changes in our lives. The problem though is that willpower is a depleting resource and in the end not the best thing to depend on to make lasting change.
It can be more helpful for long-term success to spend some time thinking about and creating a concrete and specific statement that reminds you of why you care about your health and what is driving you to make changes, something I call a personal wellness vision statement. The idea here is to go below the surface and really give some thought to what is driving and motivating you to want to make changes in your health. When creating your statement it is helpful to be specific about what is important to you and what you want out of life. This is basically what you would see if you look into the future at your ideal future self. Consider what is important to you. Think about the person you want to be, where you want to go, and the things you want to do.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help guide you:
• What kind of person do I want to be?
• How do I want to see myself and how do I want others to see me?
• How do I want to spend my days?
• What do I want to do more often and/or better?
• What is something I miss doing from when I was healthier, more active, etc.?
• When I envision myself in 10 years how is my health and ability to move and be active?
An example of a well thought out, specific Personal Wellness Vision Statement might be:
“I want to improve my habits to support my health and reduce my cholesterol. My Father had heart disease and diabetes and it was hard to watch him struggle with that. I want to spend time with my kids having fun and enjoying them. In 10 years I want to be someone who is healthy, strong, active, disease-free, and not have to take multiple medications.”
Consider your wellness vision statement to help guide you in your weekly planning, daily choices and in those challenging moments. Write it down and keep it near by. You might keep it in your wallet, posted on your fridge or near your computer at work – or in all of these places.
When the rubber meets the road and you are working to implement habits to help you be and feel mentally and physically more healthy this vision statement can be a reminder of what is at the core of your motivation. Use it to remind yourself why every small choice in the right direction will help you become a healthier, more active, longer-living version of you.